Friday, January 21, 2011

Buying Out Chris Drury Is The Right Move For Rangers

The other day I discussed whether Chris Drury should be the player benched when the Rangers get their missing forwards back.  Nothing that has happened in the games since has changed that view, rather even with increased ice time in  a blowout and last night getting a chance to start on the third line have reinforced how far Drury’s game has fallen.  While I took a look at Drury and his role for this season, Dave Shapiro, my boss at Blue Seat Blogs, took a look at what the financial costs and savings of a Drury buyout would be in terms of next year and subsequent seasons.
Buying out Drury during the summer of 2011 would result in a $3.7 million cap hit for the 2011-2012 season (saving the Rangers $3.35 million in cap space), and a $1.67 million cap hit for the 2012-2013 season, a season where Drury's initial contract would have expired. The $3.35 million in cap space saved goes a long way, especially considering Wade Redden and his $6.5 million cap hit will be on the summer cap. During a summer when the Rangers will look to sign Brad Richards, every dollar in cap space is important.
Dave went on in the article to correctly caution that replacing the leadership skills that are continually talked about, penalty killing and faceoffs are not easy to replace, as well as not to assume Brad Richards wants to be in New York.  While leadership, faceoffs and penalty killing are all important characteristics to winning clubs, they can be had for a much cheaper price than the current rate of Drury.  There is also the fact that the Rangers have shown this season they can kill penalties without Drury in the lineup.  The team has had the advancement of Dubinsky and Staal to go with Callahan as young leaders.   The reality is with what Drury is giving the Rangers he is Blair Betts at the rate of a first line scorer,

I have been against buyouts in every situation in which they have been brought up concerning Rangers players in the past as I do not like the idea of paying for extra years on a contract to not even have a player on the roster.  This situation for me is different.  The fact that Drury only has one year left makes paying a buyout over two seasons significantly more feasible.  The 3.35 million in savings is crucial to the Rangers if they do want to complete the signing of Brad Richards and bring back all their current RFA’s. 

Based on the current cap of 59.4 million the Rangers are 15.7 million under the cap with 15 players under contract.  The key restricted free agents that need new contracts are: Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, Artem Anisimov, Michael Sauer and possibly Matt Gilroy.  To have signed those five players, Richards and likely two other contracts for 15.7 million seems very unrealistic to me.  That additional 3.35 million makes it significantly more reasonable to assume the possibility as 19 million as I believe the main five restricted players will take approximately 10 million to bring back.

The cap space and the desire to keep all the young talent the Rangers have with expiring contracts has been my lone hesitation is terms of getting on board with bringing in Brad Richards, but that extra money makes the ability to pull it all off significantly higher.  Combine those factors, the lack of top talent in the 2012 free agent class and other money the Rangers have coming off the cap to cover the 1.67 million they would pay on Drury for the extra season and the move to buy him out strikes me as the right one both for the short and long term health of the franchise.